The number of Canadians concerned about cyber security has gone up in 2017. This is according to the latest Factbook report released by CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority). According to the data, 3 out of 4 Canadians are concerned about possible cyber-attacks taking place in organizations they frequent. This represents a 13 percent rise from the figures reported in 2016.

Canadians are also less inclined to make an online purchase from an organization that has been the target of a cyber-attack. According to the latest Internet Factbook, almost 45 percent of Canadians said they would most likely stop purchasing items from businesses which had suffered cyber breaches by hackers. This is highly concerning considering Canada is 9 times more prone to cyber-attacks than the U.S.

So, how is this data beneficial?

According to CIRA’s president and CEO – Byron Holland, the data helps the government and other bodies better understand the perceptions, needs and experiences of Canadian internet users. This, he says, is the first step towards establishing an improved online environment in Canada.

CIRA’s chief technology officer – Jacques Latour – concurred with Byron’s statements. In a press release he urged the government to continue investing in Canada’s internet infrastructure. This, he believes, will also work towards bolstering Canada’s online environment.

Jacques’ statements come barely one year since the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission) declared high speed broadband a basic telecommunication service. At the time of the announcement the only service that was considered essential was the local landline telephone service. The federal government, through the CRTC, aims to make high speed broadband accessible and affordable to every Canadian just like it did with the landline service.

As part of the announcement, the CRTC also stated the desired upload and download
speeds that all Canadians were targeted to receive. According to the body, ISPs and telecommunications providers were to begin gearing up to offer at least 50Mbps of
download and 10 Mbps of upload speeds.

By improving Canada’s internet infrastructure and broadband speeds the federal government is striving to ensure the 18 percent of Canadians who do not have access to broadband can be able to access it. Also, the government wants to increase Canada’s prosperity in the future and for that to happen Canada’s internet connectivity needs to increase as a whole. The CRTC hopes to connect at least 9 out 10 Canadians
with the new speeds by 2021.

To facilitate the realization of this goal, the CRTC announced the creation of a new fund of $750M CAD to support data infrastructure development projects throughout the country. Since the government would be working closely with top and mid-sized telecom providers such Acanac, it instructed the CRTC to request for the investment plans of these companies for the next six months. This would help the government to collaborate better with these entities and to also prevent potential conflicts.

Following the data infrastructure expansion project, the government is also overseeing the construction of local internet exchange points to store online data by Canadians. This is after a report from CIRA’s internet Factbook showed that over 75 percent of Canadians had concerns about their personal information being routed or stored in the U.S. In a statement, Latour urged Canadian ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to invest in local internet exchange storage points to ensure less data leaves the borders.

On cyber-attacks, research from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Cyber Security indicates that large companies in Canada are no longer the main targets of
hackers but rather it’s the small businesses that are being preyed on. The data suggests a whopping 71 percent of cyber breaches occur primarily on small enterprises.

Cyber-attacks through ransomware are among the rising threats of cyber security in Canada. It is estimated that every 40 seconds in Canada a company falls prey to a ransomware attack. According to the investigations, the businesses that are targeted are usually those that lack appropriate defenses. Ransomware hackers lock down systems of these businesses with a threat of perpetually paralyzing operations until the ransom is fully paid. In 2017, the average ransom was $1077.

To prevent these attacks business owners are encouraged to consider using up to date malware solutions since ransomware spreads like a virus. Frequent data backups are also encouraged to replace infected systems.

On another note, mobile devices were also found to be prime targets for cyber-attacks. According to data compiled by Dimensional Research, 20 percent of mobile devices belonging to businesses were breached during the year. The data also showed 65 percent of companies in Canada are not equipped to prevent mobile cyber-attacks.